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Deanman 06-26-2014 07:56 AM

Coast to Coast and back - Deanman's turn on the TAT
Hi everyone,

I'm Dean,

And I'm going to ride the TAT. :clap

I decided to do it sometime over the winter, and now I'm just a few short days away from taking off. I'm pretty excited for sure. I'm leaving Monday, June 30th, although I may slip away Sunday the 29th, cause I just don't want to wait anymore. :D

Just a bit about me: I'm 53, in decent shape although packing a few extra pounds, and still posses most of my faculties. I recently retired from my day job, but stay busy maintaining a few rental houses, my own place, and volunteering my time with the Port Angeles Lions Club. I like to hike and play outdoors, garden, tinker and fix things, read, and recently began brewing beer. I'm quite happy and enjoy my busy life with my dear wife and all my critters. I'm a lucky guy.

Been riding off and on since my early teens, mostly trails when I was young, then a bunch of street riding as a young adult. I even had a Honda 3-wheeler for a while. Then, after quite a few years without a bike at all, I got a used DR350 about 14 years ago and got into Dual Sport Touring. A few years, miles, and rides later I added the 650 to my garage.

I've been on ADVrider for several years, but post infrequently, mostly spending time in the DR specific threads, Ride Reports, and more time than I should in the basement. No doubt this RR will up my post count significantly.

Over the last decade or so I've done many weekend, week long, and multi week trips on a few bikes. The Sasquatch, Black Dog, RawHyde Rally, Dirty Face, Hoh Rainforest Ride, Olympic Loop, and more... plus a few solo trips. I've had a blast and met loads of great people. But I wanted to do something on my own, and allow enough time to travel at my own pace, and mostly, I wanted to see America! It's a big country, and I've seen very little of it outside the Pac NW. So when I first read about the TAT, I just knew I would have to do it. The wife was not real excited about it at first but has accepted it and is, as always, supportive.
She rides a little bit on her own DR200, but is not interested in such a long ride, even if we could arrange for care for the animals. Also she would, um, let's say require more comforts at more frequent intervals than may be available on this trip. So she's staying home, and having recently registered at ADVrider as Deanwife, will be joining in on the conversation as I go.

So, I'll be on my trusty Suzuki DR650,

customized to my liking of course, and have allowed 8 weeks or so for the trip to and from. Port Angeles is almost as far West as you can go in the CONUS, and the start of the TAT is in Tennessee. So, just getting to the beginning is going to be half the adventure.

Oh, for anyone who doesn't know, The TAT is the Trans America Trail, a 4,000 plus mile trek across the country on almost entirely non-paved roads (my favorite kind!). It is meant to be ridden East to West, from Tellico Plains, TN to Port Orford, OR, and that's the way I'm going to do it. For the Eastbound trip, I plan on visiting a few old friends along the way, and getting off pavement a little, but not too much. I'll be using the official TAT GPS tracks, purchased from Sam at the TAT website.

Since I'm going to have to go across much of the US just to get to the TAT start, I figure I might as well go all the way to the East Coast somewhere. I've never been so it will all be new to me. I don't really know where I'll end up. I will stop to see friends in Idaho, Iowa, and Chicago, but in between, and East of that my route remains to be seen.

I hope to spend 3 weeks or so getting to the TAT start, then 5 weeks or so on the trail, plus a day or two more to get home.

Over the next few days before I leave I'll be posting more about my bike and gear, and plan on continuing this Ride Report as I go. I'll be taking an iPad with a separate bluetooth keyboard, and a card reader so I can dump photos from my P&S camera. I have activated data service on the iPad for July and August, and of course I'll take advantage of WIFI wherever I can find it.

I have a SPOT GPS tracker, and have set up a Spotwalla page here:

This shows my location in (sort of) real time.
The primary benefit of the SPOT is it's ability to transmit a help message should I need it, without any cellular service available. I've signed up for the here: a pretty damn cool idea. If I do need help, anyone (who has signed up) within 100 miles will get the message. This way, people in my vicinity will get the msg rather than just my wife many hundreds or thousands of miles away. Also, those folks are all ADVriders who will likely know the area and have awesome, mud-covered adventure bikes with which to come rescue me. Of course I hope to never use that particular feature. The other great feature of the SPOT is, of course, the tracking feature, which will show my route as a series of "bread crumb" points, at 10 minute intervals.

Oh, and to weigh in on another much debated topic: I have the SPOT strapped to my camelbak.

For this trip I will be on a budget of about $40 per day, including fuel. I plan on camping and cooking my own meals much of the time, although I will be making use of another awesome community on ADVrider: the tentspace list, which hopefully will allow me to stay with other motorcyclists and make them part of my adventure. I also just signed up for the brand-new MotoStays, a tentspace like website for connecting travelers and hosts.

Hey, have I mentioned that is the worlds best motorcycle forum? No? Well, it is.

If anyone has any comments or questions along the way, please chime in and I'll do my best to answer.

Next post: more on my bike and gear.

Gale B.T. 06-26-2014 11:50 AM

"Oh, and to weigh in on another much debated topic: I have the SPOT strapped to my camelbak."

Looking forward to your RR, you will have fun and a great experience , one way or the other.

If your SPOT is on your "camelbak" make sure you can reach same from any position , just in case.

ride smart
gale, pagosa

Bleemus 06-26-2014 12:22 PM

I'm in! Good times ahead!

Deanman 06-26-2014 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by Gale B.T. (Post 24483237)
"Oh, and to weigh in on another much debated topic: I have the SPOT strapped to my camelbak."

Looking forward to your RR, you will have fun and a great experience , one way or the other.

If your SPOT is on your "camelbak" make sure you can reach same from any position , just in case.

ride smart
gale, pagosa

Hey Beemus, thanks for the comment. Yup, I can reach it, although it remains to be seen if that's true after a crash. Hope to not test it out. No matter where one mounts the device, there will be compromises. It needs to face up at the sky so mounting choices become limited. It's possible I may rip the camelbak off in a crash, but I think it's the least likely; I thought it much more likely that I would become separated from the bike, so I chose not to mount it to the handlebars.
Perhaps the best place might be to attach it to the top of my helmet, but with my luck I would tear it off with a low hanging branch. :huh

Hope that explains my thought process on why I chose to carry it there.

Man I'm getting excited! Just a couple days to go!

ClineDesign 06-26-2014 04:28 PM

Have a great time Dean. Looking forward to hearing your reports and a slide show when you return!


WeeMcD 06-27-2014 08:53 AM

This is going to be good. Color me green with envy. Wish that I was taking this trip. Can't wait to see the reports. Does this mean that you won't be at the Rider for Health Scavenger Hunt this year?

Deanman 06-27-2014 08:59 AM


Originally Posted by ClineDesign (Post 24485226)
Have a great time Dean. Looking forward to hearing your reports and a slide show when you return!


Thanks Jay. I will try to just keep current on the RR, or I will never remember all the details!

Deanman 06-27-2014 09:02 AM


Originally Posted by WeeMcD (Post 24489645)
This is going to be good. Color me green with envy. Wish that I was taking this trip. Can't wait to see the reports. Does this mean that you won't be at the Rider for Health Scavenger Hunt this year?

Yup I'm missing lots of excellent events, but I just can't do it all. Good luck on the scavenger hunt. Wife and I won it a couple years ago, then the Dirty Girls got serious and took the crown (cheap plastic trophy) away from us. Oh well all for a great cause.

Deanman 06-27-2014 09:16 AM

The Bike
My bike of choice for this ride is the legendary Suzuki DR650.

Known for its economy, reliability and versatility over its style, it is a popular DS bike and no stranger to this type of riding. Mine is a 2007 with a little over 26,000 miles, with all the usual mods. I think I captured them all, below:

NSU switch locktighted
Upper chain roller removed
T-vent mod
Clark 5 gal tank
Renazco Racing seat
Pro Moto Billet rear rack
Renthal handlebars
1" bar risers
Heated grips
2 ASE plugs on dash to power electronics
1 ASE plug near battery for battery tender
Doubletake mirrors
Cycra handguards
Procycle front fender brace
Center Stand
Opened up airbox, installed .45 jet, oversize header, Keintech oversize mid-pipe, GSXR 40F0 exhaust w/ spark arrester
K&N air filter
Procycle pre-air filter
Gold Valve and .83 spring on rear shock
Race Tech Emulators and .55 straight rate springs in forks
Skid plate
Relocated choke handle
AgriSupply Tool Tube in place of stock toolbox
Topeak Modula Java Cage fuel bottle holders on rear of panniers
Subaru Legacy horns (in original location, relay added, very loud!)
Instrument lights relocated for better visibility (helps prevent leaving blinker on)

I bought it with only 3,500 miles on it, and it came with many items already installed: the tank, seat, rack, skid plate, center stand, & heated grips. I did all the rest over time, and after researching much about this bike in the giant DR650 thread in Thumpers. (Also learned much about and conquered my carburetor fears reading the BST Bible thread) I have ridden it hard in all kinds of conditions, and it's been good to me. I take good care of it, and am confident it will get me there and back.

My latest mod was to replace the dead horn with these:

It's a set of horns from a '96 Subaru Legacy, courtesy of my local wrecking yard, for a mere $5.00! I didn't think I really needed it but I had a few laying a round so I installed them with a relay, and it all just fit in the stock location.

It's now loud. I said LOUD! No more meep meep for me! Loud horns save lives! Or something like that.

I'm running a brand new set of Kenda K-270 tires, and just installed new chain & sprockets (15/46 with a spare 14cs), new rear wheel bearings/seals, & a new battery. My brake pads are almost new, but I'm carrying a set of brake shoes F&R, and a set of front wheel bearings/seals just in case. I will ship a set of tires, probably D606s, to a place in Tennessee so I start the TAT with fresh knobbies.

Of course I carry the usual tools, tire repair items, spare tubes, parts, etc to deal with any problems I may have. Hopefully anyway.We'll see... I plan to do at least 2 oil changes on the road, perhaps 3, swap tires once or twice, and deal with whatever else comes up.

Next: Luggage & Gear.

MaNDan 06-27-2014 09:31 AM

Hi Dean
[QUOTE. Looking forward to your RR, you will have fun and a great experience , one way or the other.

OK Dean, I'm in and will be following you the whole trip.

bluestar 06-27-2014 10:34 AM

Subscribed. :lurk :lurk

Deanman 06-28-2014 07:55 AM

So, for those interested, my luggage setup:

Happy Trail Teton panniers
Wolfman Large drybag
Wolfman Enduro Tank bag
Wolfman number plate bag
MSR Fender bag
Camelbak with 3 liter bladder

I'm undoubtedly carrying more than I need to, but feel I've struck a decent balance on what to bring. Because I'm camping most of the time, I am bringing a few non-essential comfort items, such as the Kermit chair. Kind of big, pretty heavy, but really, really comfy. I've done a lot of backpacking, camping and moto-camping over the years, and I think I have my equipment and techniques dialed in pretty well now.

As far as Gear, I ride ATGATT, and for this trip will be sporting Klim Dakar pants, Fieldsheer Mesh jacket, Fieldsheer mesh gloves, EVS Option knee/shin guards, Alpinstar Alpha boots, and an AFX FX-39 helmet. I have a new LSI dualsport helmet, but prefer the older AFX for it's quick release chin strap.

I'll have the usual minimal collection of all non-cotton clothing, nothing too interesting here except to stress that for moto-travel, cotton is not your friend.

I will be camping much of the time, so am packing a pretty complete camping setup.

Here's my list:
REI 1/4 dome tent
Big Agnes Buffalo Park 40 sleeping bag
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad
Microburst inflater
Exped medium pillow
Kermit chair
MSR 6L Dromedary bag
Cheap brand solar shower
Small homemade table
MSR Whisperlite stove (2)
Brunton Vapor non-stick cookware set including
Sea to Summit plate & bowl and
A couple sporks plus various other items

The dry bag holds everything on the list above except the stoves and cookware:

The black bag on the right is the Kermit chair, the black bag on the bottom left is an old tripod bag now containing a 5 gallon solar shower. I have used it in the back yard and it works well, heating about 3 gallons of quite cold to shower temp in about 3 hours. Not sure how much I'll use it but it's small and light. The whiteish looking bag is a cheap drybag, 20L I think, that I can haul water in, use for a sink or bucket, ice chest, etc.

My cookware set:

Contains this:

The insulated cozy works well at keeping things warm or insulation you from the hot pot for when you want to scarf right from the pot. The smaller pot and fry pan are non stick and clean up easily. The bigger spatula looking thing to the right of the spatula is a strainer/cheese grater, something I didn't think i would use, but do use a lot, for draining pasta, and yes, grating cheese.
As I said, I realize I am packing a bit heavy on the camping stuff, with the heavy and bulky Kermit chair, and a spare stove, but if you're going to camp, might as well be comfortable. Do it for multiple nights in a row and you'll be glad you brought some of the creature comforts. I enjoy cooking and tend to stay away from freeze dried and processed foods, so I like to have enough cooking gear & supplies to make more complex meals when I feel like it. I also hope to share a meal with fellow travelers here and there, so it's nice to have a spare plate & spork. Yes I could live without the little pillow, or the inflator, but for me the benefits outweigh the space/weight. After quite a few trips, I will say the pillow, inflator, and chair have become necessities for me.

At my last job my boss returned from a vacation and gave us little gifts of a Silishot; a silicone shot glass, which I instantly realized would be excellent for moto-camping. It is in the pic just below the sporks. I like to sip whiskey from it. Being a bit of a beer snob, and preferring my brews from a glass, when I found out they sell pint glasses, I had to have one.

Bonus: one excellent use I found for it is for filling the Camelbak or Dromedary bladders in shallow sinks. I carry the silipint in the back pocket of the Camelbak so it's easily accessed.

Next, I'll go into my electronics and gadgets.

korny 06-28-2014 08:41 AM

I'm in, best of luck


black top bob 06-28-2014 11:50 AM

Me too. :1drink

12 days to departure.

Molonlabemike 06-28-2014 02:55 PM

I'm in, looking forward to this as I plan to do this very ride hopefully next year :freaky

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